BY LIZZIE PARRY
Thursday, February 28, 2013
A TAXI driver has been fined after pleading guilty to refusing to transport a blind couple and their two guide dogs – in one of the first prosecutions of its kind in the UK.
Metin Akin, of Coopers Close in Witnesham, was forced to pay £1,413 in fines and court fees at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
Christopher Bing, representing Ipswich Borough Council, told the court on July 8 last year Martin Roberts had called to book a taxi with Ipswich Cabs 289 Ltd.
He and his partner Clare Burman, and their two guide dogs Vikki and Malone, requested to be taken from a relative’s address in Felixstowe Road, to their home in Bridgewater Road, Chantry.
The booking was accepted by the controller and given to Akin as the closest driver in the area.
After initially accepting the fare, the 32-year-old driver, refused after learning it would involve transporting the couple’s dogs.
Akin told the controller he didn’t want to carry the guide dogs because his new Volkswagen Passat saloon had leather seats. He suggested the journey required an estate car.
The operator told Akin he could not refuse the journey because of the guide dogs but he refused to change his mind.
The controller was concerned at delaying Mr Roberts’s journey and gave the job to another driver who accepted the fare in his saloon car.
The court heard, the Equality Act 2010, states licensed drivers have a statutory duty to transport guide dogs.
They can only refuse if they hold an exemption certificate on medical grounds.
Akin did not hold such a certificate. In August 2012 he applied for the documentation on the basis he was allergic to dogs but an allergy skin prick test showed he was not allergic to dogs and his application was refused.
The court fined Akin £165 and ordered him to pay IBC’s costs of £1,233.50 as well as a £15 victim surcharge.